It would take 1 min for Eskom's system to collapse, resulting in total blackout

Professor Thinus Booysen has explained in much detail how the grid operates, and why a collapse could plunge the entire country into darkness for weeks.

FILE: South Africa continues to experience rolling power outages as Eskom bounces between stage 2 and 4 load shedding. Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - It would take just a minute for Eskom's already crippled power system to totally collapse, sending the entire country into weeks-long blackout.

This is according to Professor Thinus Booysen of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch.

Professor Booysen spoke to The Money Show's Bruce Whitfield on Monday night while South Africa continues to experience rolling power outages as Eskom bounces between stage 2 and 4 load shedding.

Booysen has explained in much detail how the grid operates, and why a collapse could plunge the entire country into darkness for weeks.

"The whole grid operates on 50 hertz. When demand outstrips supply, that 50 hertz go down slightly. If generators can’t bear the brunt, they start to turn off. One by one, the generators will shut down if nothing is done to demand. Then we have a blackout… Getting everything up and running again will take, maybe two if not more weeks.

"Load shedding, if we don’t do it, we’ll be in deep trouble, where we don’t have any electricity for two weeks, and you can just imagine what that’s going to do to our country.

"It [a blackout] is definitely not impossible. The really scary thing is, if it happens, it’s going to take 30 to 60 seconds to occur. Every time there is an unscheduled blackout, I go into a state of panic. It has happened in India, Brazil, Canada, the States. We’re running these things [old coal-fired power stations] as hot as we can without maintaining them. We’re paying the debts of years gone by," he said.

Listen to the full audio below for more: